When I was younger and just beginning to realize that I wanted a future as a writer, I had starry-eyed notions of a major publisher recognizing my talent and jumping to offer me a contract (with a generous advance, of course).
Yeah, not so much.
Instead I have a pile of rejection letters, mostly of the form variety, some with encouraging words about how my writing is good (just not quite right for them). I had to learn the hard way that being a good writer isn’t enough to get published. In fact, sometimes you don’t even have to be able to write at all as long as you have a big enough name to guarantee sales. Depressing doesn’t even begin to cover it.
An article in the Washington Post shares how Madeleine L’Engle and other well-known authors have suffered rejection over their careers. So how to deal with it when it happens to you?
Like L’Engle, stick to your vision. Don’t compromise your work to suit the industry’s sometimes narrow definitions of saleable. Your readers are out there, even if your book is genre defying and a little odd (something readers are a lot more open to than publishers).
Like J.K. Rowling, keep persisting. Just because 12 publishers reject your book doesn’t mean that 13 won’t be your lucky number.
Like Beatrix Potter, do it yourself. Self publishing has been around a long time, and it’s only getting bigger. When traditional publishers have let you down (or you don’t even want to bother with them in the first place), don’t be afraid to go the indie route (which is what I did with my debut novel, Love Lies Bleeding— and what I also plan to do with the next book in the series.)
Whatever you do, don’t let rejections get to you. They are common, they are inevitable, and they don’t reflect the quality of your work, or you as a person. Just remember: a good story will find a way.
How do you deal with professional rejection? Share in the comments.
If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥
Aspasía S. Bissas